Building a startup is like driving a sports-car. It's fun, it's exciting, but it is also about fast yet wise decisions. Making mistakes is not an option, and the danger is high. You may either crash your car or run out of gas before getting to your planned destination.
If you want to avoid this, choose your vehicle and engine that comes with it wisely. And reading this piece will help you to decide whether choosing React Native for startups is actually a good idea.
What is React Native?
React Native is an open-source, cross-platform framework created by Facebook in 2015 for building mobile applications using React. It's like an engine for your startup's app. It allows developers to accelerate the development of native apps for operating systems like Android and iOS.
If you want to become more familiar with React Native, read our comprehensive guide.
Which startups use React Native?
React Native is a choice for many companies, from tech giants like Facebook itself to young startups looking for funding. If you are curious, here is the list of some popular applications that have been built using this trend-setting technology:
- Facebook Analytics
- Uber Eats
There are more examples, but it all comes down to this: if they rely on React Native, why shouldn't the others?
When to consider choosing React Native?
Choosing the proper technology for your mobile application is challenging. But it may become a bit easier after reflecting on needs, estimated budget and available time. Therefore, there are some scenarios in which React Native might be the right choice. Consider choosing React Native:
- If you have native apps already— if you already have iOS and/or Android applications, you can change to React Native, because it doesn't require re-writing the entire code which makes migration a lot easier (check here how Khan Academy managed such a transition)
- To scale quickly — it's easy to hire or train React Native developers so growing a team fast is not a problem.
- To create MVP fast — having just an idea is not enough, and you must test it in real market conditions. In other words, you need to create an MVP as fast as possible.
- If you have tight deadlines — if you work in a startup, you need to move fast. Need-for-Speed-like fast or even faster. And it's not about creating MVP. It's also about making constant changes and updates with as little effort and time as it's needed.
- If your budget is strictly limited — having just an idea is not enough for most investors. A minimum you need is working MVP, but there is a chance that you won't finish it before running out of money. Using React Native will help you minimise that risk.
Benefits of using React Native for Startups
Looking closely at benefits is always a good idea when it comes to making more or less important decisions. To help you make a great one regarding technology for your startup, we prepared a list of benefits from both business and technical perspectives.
Benefits from a business perspective
- Excellent User Experience — User Experience of any digital product is essential to its success. While technically a React Native app is not "the app", it looks and feels like it. Especially because it's fully responsive.
- Stability and evolvement — since its foundation, React Native matured, is still evolving and backed up by a huge community. Most common problems are already solved. Therefore, the risk of using it doesn't exist.
- Developers availability — React Native is not a new technology or one that nobody knows. The reverse is true: the developer marketplace is robust. You can either hire freelancers using websites like Upwork or talk to an agency like ours.
- Shortened time to market (TTM) — the sky is the limit, and time is the money. As a startup, you don't want to create an app for months without showing it to real users and future customers. React Native boosts up mobile development up to 50% in comparison to native app development so startups can create working MVP even twice as fast.
- Money savings — this point is highly connected with the previous points. Still, there is more: a decision to build a single cross-platform app is far better economical choice than creating two separate applications for iOS and Android.
- Time savings — using React Native means that you don't have to create two separate applications for two separate platforms. Not to mention the time you will spend on upgrading and fixing them.
Benefits from a technical perspective
- Compatibility with back-end technologies — you can use React Native with back-end frameworks like Django or Ruby on Rails, and it will work like a charm
- Declarative style — it's about WHAT you want to do, in a contrary to imperative style, which is about HOW you want to do it. For example, let's say that you hired a private chef and want to eat a fancy dinner at home. Instead of telling him HOW to do it (imperative style), you just say WHAT you want (declarative style), i.e. "Make me Hawaii pizza, please."
- Dynamic development — since its creation in 2015, React Native evolved both as a technology and community, and it doesn't seem it will rest on its's laurels. Because of that, you can be sure of two things: (1) it's more future-proof than some other technologies and (2) the chances of finding someone to hire or to help you are very high.
- Hot Reloading — in short, it allows you for making changes to your app code while it's still up and running. It accelerates app developments significantly because your app can reload automatically.
- Open-source community — if you are stuck somewhere along the development process, you can always go to GitHub or Reddit to ask for help, and there is a great chance that someone will help you out
- Reusable components — why write the same code again and again, when you can re-use already-built elements? It works across both iOS and Android, and it's enough to update a particular component in one view. It's possible because updates will be automatically made in each case of using this component
- Third-party extensions support — React Native is all about speeding up the development process. Apart from RN itself, you can use many third-party plugins and frameworks like NativeBase (which helps you to create native-like apps) or Galio (which is a library of UI components)
Disadvantages of using React Native
Unfortunately, it's not all rainbows and butterflies. Like any other technology, React Native also has its flaws:
- Complicated updating process — keeping your cross-platform application always up with the latest React Native version is a challenge. It's a complicated process that's much easier in the case of native apps.
- Issues with more complicated design — React Native may not be the best choice if you want to use gain business leverage by using some advanced interactions or custom graphics
- Lack of custom modules — sometimes, you will have to build specific components from scratch.
- Messy code after migration — you may have to rewrite some code to make necessary adjustments or to make APIs work correctly again.
When to choose a native app instead of React Native?
It’s not like that cross-platform app is always a better choice than going with a native app. There are some scenarios in which it's better to choose the latter option. Consider native app if:
- Performance is what you care most about
- Security is your priority, i.e. if you are in the FinTech industry.
- Your app will be heavy on graphics. In other words, if you want to include advanced interactions, custom animations, or various screen transitions in your app.
- Your app will require a lot of interactions with hardware like GPS, i.e. if it uses geolocation tracking.
Alternatives to React Native
- Flutter — it's a framework created by Google to build mobile, web, and desktop applications using a single codebase. To find out more, read our comparison between these two.
- Xamarin — it’s a framework created by Microsoft, which allows developers to build iOS and Android applications. But in a contrary to React Native, Xamarin apps are written in C#.
All of the above alternatives are cross-platform and open-source solutions.
React Native FAQ
How long does it take to build a React Native application?
The reply is: it depends (it’s our favourite answer). While choosing React Native to build an application speeds up the development process up to 50% in comparison to native app development, the time needed depends on the complexity of the desired application.
Such an estimation can be prepared after outlining the software complexity by both sides.
How much does it cost?
Again, it depends. Development agency can give you a ballpark estimate of your project, including time and money needed, after outlining its complexity.
If you are more like a reader, you can check our comprehensive guide on React Native.